How Important Are Seat Belts?

In the last thirty years, all the way across the country, states have been enforcing seat belt laws to assist with bringing down traffic fatalities. But are seat belts really that important, or do they contribute to more injuries than they prevent?

Seat Belt Legislation

Seat belt laws began in 1968 with a federal law mandating that vehicles be equipped with seat belts (except for buses). Use of the seat belts was still voluntary in all 50 states, however, until New York State began requiring residents to wear seat belts in 1984. Younger people will consider seat belts to be a given when riding in a car, but some older people still forget to put their seat belts on from time to time.

As of 2017, New Hampshire is the only state that does not require occupants to wear their seat belts. In many states (18 out of 50), not wearing your seat belt is considered a secondary violation — meaning that you might only receive a ticket if you are in the process of a moving violation, e.g., a primary violation. The CDC has recommended that states begin to treat all seat belt refusal as a primary violation in order to lower the death toll.

The Statistics

Though most of us are doing what we can to bring down the fatalities, motor vehicle crashes are still one of the leading causes of death for those under 30. According to the CDC, in 2009, 33,000 people died and 2.2 million more were injured in motor vehicle accidents. Most individual who die in these crashes were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash: over half of all drivers and passengers who died in 2009 were not wearing their seat belts.

On average, seat belts lower your risk of death by 45%, and your risk of injury by 50%. Most notably, they protect drivers and passengers from vehicle ejection. In fact, if you are not wearing your seat belt, you are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a car in a crash.

Seat Belts and Injuries

There are, however, risks of abdominal and chest injuries from seat belts. It is important that you sit in the correct position and use your belt correctly to avoid needless injuries. Some people may argue against seat belts because of these injuries, there’s no doubt that the injuries would be much worse without the seat belts. In the event of an accident, a seat belt that works properly can still cause brush burns, bruising, and lacerations.

When terrible things like car accidents happen, we are often very stressed and worried. Even a safety mechanism like a seat belt can cause harm while still being effective and important. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, a personal injury lawyer Milwaukee WI trusts might advise you to seek compensation for all of your injuries, including those that result from using a seat belt.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim SC for their insight into car accident and personal injury cases.